Courtney sits down with Brett Haggerty, Assistant Director with Adventure WV at the Outdoor Recreation Center (ORC) to talk about the Do It Yourself Outdoors website. The site is a partnership between Adventure WV and WVU Extension Services and has been live since 2005. The site can help locals and visitors alike plan some outdoor adventures here in the Mountain State. Check out the main site here: https://diyoutdoors.wvu.edu/ And check out the Morgantown community page here: https://diyoutdoors.wvu.edu/wv-communities/morgantown

Transcript:

Welcome everyone to Wellbeing Wednesdays. My name is Courtney Weaver. I'm the director of Well WVU here at West Virginia university. And I'm also your steamed host of this weekly podcast with me today is Brett Haggerty. He is the assistant director for Adventure West, Virginia, and specifically he works with the Outdoor Recreation Center.

So welcome Brett. And why don't you tell us a little bit about yourself and your role at the university. So, yeah, my name is Brett Haggerty. I have been working for WVU since 2001. So a little while now. Yes. And I worked for Adventure West Virginia, and I've been kind of here as we've changed from working just with Campus Recreation, to Adventure West Virginia becoming a thing.

So it really was not in existence until about 2004 or five. So I, as far as personal stuff, I love the outdoors. Obviously I've worked for a great place because of that. I'm very passionate about getting people outside and doing fun, cool things. And so that's part of why I do what I do. Okay. And so working with the outdoor recreation center, what does that specifically mean?

The outdoor recreation center. I think kind of think of it as like this part of Adventure West Virginia, that really focuses more on it than the general population of WVU. So we. Try to provide as much as we can for folks to be able to do their own programs do their own activities out outside. So if you're a college student, yes.

We want to work with you. If you're a faculty or staff. Yes. We want to work with you if your family of all those folks. So we're a little bit more of the, the place where you go, if you want to Kind of learn about what there is to do with adventure recreation and, and kind of be able to facilitate yourself doing those things.

So for example, you know, we have a rental center where we rent out gear, it will get outside. We also have a lot of information books and that sort of thing that gives people information about where to go and what to do. And we also lead. Specific trips workshops, seminars if people want to have a guided experience or learn more about outdoor programs out there, activities.

Excellent. So actually what people might not know is that the IRC specifically the rental center has partnered up with well WVU for our 21st birthday project. So if y'all are turning 21 anytime soon, make sure to check your email on the front of the first of the month. And there's an opportunity for you to get a free goodie from Well or from Adventure or for cl from collegiate recovery.

And one of those is half off coupons to the rental center. So if you want to maybe try new activity, On your 21st birthday. You totally can. So, yay. All right. So you're here today, Brett, to talk a little bit about the DIY outdoors website, that looks to be a joint project between Adventure West, Virginia, and then extension services.

So and we'll link to the website in our description, but how did the idea for the site come about and maybe, maybe before, even diving into that, give a quick overview of what the site is. West Virginia DIY outdoors and DIY, if you don't know, and part of this, we'll, we'll let people know what the age of the site is.

DIY stands for do it. Yourself, which was more popular as a, as a, as an acronym and kind of in the early two thousands. So that's why the name is that. And the idea is you know, along with what we try to do at the Do It Yourself Center is how do we get information to folks about what is available?

Around Morgantown and then the rest of the state to do with regard to, you know, adventure activities where is it located? So basically like where can you go do all this fun stuff that we have in our state? You know, that a lot of people really enjoy and. How did it get started and why to get started?

I think part of it is the, you know, if you think back to before the internet, the way that people got information was really through books and magazines. And so a lot of, do you want to know where do I go? Backpacking West Virginia. There's, there's some good books out there. And you know, my national forest guide for hiking and backpacking that's still a great resource and we utilize it, but what we found and we're trying to give people information that at the all direct center, when they came in and asked, where do I go do this activity?

A lot of times there just wasn't quite enough information there, or there wasn't a book that we could point people towards. And a lot of that information ended up being in my head usually, or somebody else's head, you know, the kind of the local knowledge that you have when you do, when you do outdoor activities.

So if somebody came in and asked that question in Iowa, didn't happen to be there. The question probably didn't get answered, right? So the initial idea for this website was. Let's put together kind of lists of where can you go camping around morning town? Where can you go climbing around Morgantown?

Where can you go hiking, et cetera. And initially you know, this idea started in the early two thousands. Obviously the internet was there at that point, but not as great as it is now. So we toyed around with the idea of, of doing brochure and accessing camping around more in town, you know, in this brochure, we quickly decided that that would have been a poor idea to go with a brochure and we should probably use the internet.

So That's where we started. And, and so 2005 was when the yeah. DIY website went live initially. And the focus at that point, it actually was called Morgantown, DIY outdoors. So our focus really was. It was kind of WVU around Morgantown and what was kind of important locally and regionally within the context of what we were trying to communicate to folks we've grown since then.

Yes. So I think, I think it was a good call not to do a brochure. Cause one of the good things about a website is that things, you know, perhaps. A campground goes out of business or isn't open for the season. You'd have to reprint on pay for all of those brochures. So website, you just change it and it's, it's live in a few minutes, so that's great.

So how might someone use the site if they go to it today? Which we actually haven't said it, but it's DIY outdoors dot, wvu.edu. And again, we'll put that in the description of the podcast, but how might someone use the site, Brett? Yeah. So the way we have it organized is kind of the, that somebody might enter and bind information in two ways.

And it it's, they're intertwined so that, you know, you end up getting the information either way you go in. But for example, if you decide, if you were saying, Oh, I really want to go camping. So you have this, this category, this activity that you want to do, we have the whole site organized into an activity types.

Backpacking bicycling, camping canoeing in cross country, skiing, downhill skiing, hiking, mountain biking, rock climbing, swimming, holes, and whitewater. All those are the, the activity types in them. You want to go find those? You would enter that category. There's kind of a general description of what camping is like and what opportunities there are in the whole state.

And then there's a list with, at this point. Got it. We'll try to make that a little bit different here soon. We certainly have some, some pieces of that we're still working on, but right now it's alphabetized which as I know, doesn't necessarily help you unless you already know the name of the place you want to go.

All right. So the other way then that we have them categorized is by a map. And a lot of people certainly. Instead of saying, Oh, I know I want to go camping. They may be saying, I already know that I'm going to be hanging out, you know, near a certain town or where, you know, WVU is in Morgantown. And so I just want to know what is there, where are the campsites around that location?

So you can also then go to our maps and find Morgantown. And then look, we have, we have the map. And a bunch of icons. And of course the camping icon is the little cute tent. And then you can navigate and kind of click on any of the icons that are around the location that you're going to be. So you wouldn't have to know the names of the places already.

You could just kind of search by, by location. That's good. So do the activities, do you sort of rank them by their skill set? So for example, if I was going to near Charleston and I'm like, I've never been caving before, is there an opportunity to do that, but I'm a beginner or maybe I'm more advanced, like, do you have an organized that way?

I think that's probably an area that there is some improvement on what we were going to do or what we're doing with the site. It is organized in that way to some degree. So if you are a super duper expert at something, let's say it's whitewater, you probably don't need this site quite as much, unless you're really new to the area.

And you just kind of want to. Yeah, a little taste and you're already like I'm already a super expert kayaker. There are one of the things that has happened since 2005 is there are a tremendous number of Commercial websites now that are really good at that super specific information that somebody might get about, about a certain activity.

So the, for whitewater American whitewater actually has been around for a long time. We don't shy away from utilizing. The resources that are on other sites. So for example, if you go to the whitewater pages, we link to all of those American whitewater pagers for rock climbing. There's a site called mountain project and mountain project also kind of is very specific and links to real detailed information.

So we link to those sites as well. So then if you're a beginner we also will link to on the other side. So whitewater as, as an example, any place that there are commercial whitewater companies who take beginners, we will link to that as well. And we'll put a note in there, you know, this this river section.

Is partially run on and here are links to why water companies who do business on the such. So we, we definitely do both, both of them, for sure. Some of the activities are more conducive to accommodating for beginners than others are. Some for example, I mean, camping and hiking, most people can.

Jump into camping and hiking and figure it out without too much outside help. Whereas whitewater rock climbing. Those will be on the other end of the spectrum. Yeah. Only been whitewater rafting once and I'll be honest. It scared the crap out of me. So I don't know if I'll go again, but well, let's talk about cost for a second.

Cause sometimes these activities, obviously, if it's, you know, like a whitewater rafting trip, that's done through a commercial company, there's. Likely to be a cost associated with that for, you know, equipment rental or guided tours or whatnot. But if it's a different activity, so if it's like, you know, a campground or, you know, rock climbing, if the plan has to involve like renting equipment or paying an entry fee, does the site connect you to like the appropriate resources or does someone have to say, Oh, I'll go find that on my own.

I just know to go here to start. So what we do on each, each specific location, we try to give all the relatives relevant details that a person would, would need to understand what they're getting into to get there, to get a feel for what the cost is and all that. So you know, for example, I'm gonna click on the camping page for Babcock state park.

And then if you go in there, it gives a squirt short description about what Brown is like. There there's a map that it links to directions. There's a link to Google directions generally. Where is this in the state? What other activities are available? What is the address where the found email, what is the website?

So. It is intended to be more of a gateway to where, where are you going to find those details that you need as an individual to do that activity? Okay. Well, that's great. So what, what would you say to someone who is hesitant like myself to try any of these outdoor activities? Like what do you think the benefits are?

Well, I do think number one, it's so one, one of the big reasons that people don't participate is, is just knowledge, some basic knowledge of where is this stuff. So, and I will say because, because we started our effort in and around Morgantown. If you were to go on the site and look at. The map related to Morgantown there, we have more points around more income because we've really focused on that.

So for example, we have all the city parks on there. And sometimes the, you know, the number of trails that they've just been doing some work. And in fact, my daughter and I hike gesture day to Marilla park and Marilla park. Five years ago, didn't have any trails in it, but now they've been building some small trails in Memorial park in the last couple of years.

So that might not be a location that if you were visiting West Virginia, you would say, Oh, I'm going to go, you know, hike at Marilla park on the, you know, one mile or one and a half mile trails. But if you live in Morgantown, yes. You know, that's a great. A resource for you to just to hike out your back door.

If you're using it as kind of trails that link you to the rail trail, that's further down. It really is a piece to that puzzle. And it's important that people know where that stuff is and what, what is available. And if you're just. Getting into it, or, you know, that's, as far as you want to go with your, your experiences, that's fine.

But certainly one of the limiting factors to people participating is just basic knowledge of what is available and where is okay. And so you mentioned the community pages. So right now you have two community pages, one for Morgantown and the one for Davis, but I had heard a rumor that you have more in the works.

Yeah. And I will say like the, the difficult part for, for us. And this is the, you know, West Virginia has a lot of outdoor activities and locations is, is great. But they're the ones that we, I have a harder time with kind of building our, the stuff that's further away from us because I can't just easily go there.

Maybe an Adventure West Virginia. We don't have programs that already go to those places. So our knowledge bases and it's great. I am working in, I'm working with some of them, the communities to basically partner and say, Hey, can they help? Us out, we get some photos and some information and make sure we're writing up some of the descriptions.

Well and, and obviously then they get, you know, a page that kind of focuses and hopefully helps them out, both in drawing people into that area and, you know, providing a resource for, for residents who live there. So yes, that's, that's our current. Kind of bigger part of the project is to continue to expand the community pages and with that other details for kind of the rest of the state, other.

Locations and pages and descriptions. So, yeah. So in development, that's good. Well, before we wrap up Brett, is there anything else that you would like our listeners to know about the DIY outdoors site? You know, currently, as I said, there are some, a lot of other sites popping up that are. Related to outdoor activities.

And, and as I said, we, we don't shy away from leading to those and using those as resources. I think the piece where this is, this site is better than all those is. It has more of the, the categories that you might be interested in participating in all in one place. And it certainly focuses on this state.

Whereas those other sites. Maybe about the whole of the United States. And, and usually it's only focused on one category just climbing or just mountain biking or something like that. So, yes. And we're very excited. The we're very excited about the maps. I like maps. Maps are fine. And we've had three renditions redone.

No three renditions of the maps are on our third. The initial one, I remember what it was called, but it was before Google. Then we went to a Google map and now we're on a GIS map. So lots of now it's lots of different layers things you can click on and little pop up pieces of information. So it's pretty fun.

I can spend all day just playing around on the map. If you don't, if you don't want to go outside and you just want to sit inside and play on a map, you can do that too. All right. Well, that's good to know for our friends who were a bit hesitant to go outside. Well, well, thank you so much, Brett, for joining us today.

I know that I, for sure, I'm going to go check out this website. Since now I live in Morgantown and want to know about all this stuff to do. And I like to walk. So walking translates into hiking. I think. Great. Well, again, thanks so much and we'll pop that link in the description of the podcast, but for those of you who might be listening in the car, it's just DIY outdoors dot, wvu.edu, and check it out and thank you for listening.

And we will catch you next time on Wellbeing Wednesdays.